Spreading Kindness as an Antidote to Cruelty

spread kindessOctober is National Bully Prevention month. While the world focuses on how to stop bullying in schools, communities, and of course, the workplace, last year I decide to shift my focus a bit. As the Founder of the Healthy Workforce Institute, my goal is to eradicating bad behavior in healthcare. After all, the way the healthcare team treats each other is just as important as the care they provide. When disruptive behaviors go unaddressed, bad things happen to patients – bad things happen to us; our moms, dads, spouses, and children.

My team and I spend the majority of our time focusing on helping our clients address the badness in healthcare. We have lots of simple strategies, tools, and resources that work!! However, during bully prevention month, we like to focus on the goodness in healthcare – not the badness. And it’s because of two reasons:

1. Mirror Neurons

As I have written about many times, we are all influenced by the people we spend the most time with, the music we listen to, movies we watch, and what we listen to on the radio, etc. Our environment shapes our perception of the world and therefore, shapes other people’s perception. If you expose your brain to negativity – people who constantly complain, negative news, violent movies, and coworkers who gossip, mock, and talk badly about other coworkers – your world will look cruel.

However, if you expose your brain to positivity – people who consistently talk about good things, listen to motivating messages and watch inspiring movies, etc. If you surround yourself with heroes, do-gooders, and kind people – your world will look kind.

If all we do is focus on how prevalent bullying is; what it looks like; the impact, etc. our world will look worse than what it is.

However, if we focus on the goodness, we can influence others to do more good things and less, well, bad things.

2.  People are hungry for goodness

I thought it would be fun to look at all of the articles I’ve written over the last 9 years and identify the one that received the highest views and then re-share it with my community. Was it the article I wrote about toxic coworkers? The one about how bullies choose their targets or could it be the one about how not to hire a bully? I was so sure one of those was number one.

I was dead wrong!

The article I wrote that received the highest views was titled, “10 Ways to Spread Kindness at Work”. Yep. It was an article about spreading goodness.

People are hungry for ways they can spread kindness and goodness at work, in their community, schools, and at home.

Many years ago I worked with a manager who would wear seal blue scrubs every day to work AND a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. Quite honestly, it looked – weird. Think about it. She looked like she was prepared to take out someone’s gallbladder and invite you to high tea at the same time!

One day I asked her why she wore scrubs and pearls.

She said, “When I’m wearing pearls, they remind me that no matter how someone treats me, to always be a lady. And, I think someone’s going to have a harder time being cruel to me if I’m wearing pearls.”

It was this experience that prompted me to create my “Be Kind” buttons and stickers.

When I’m wearing the Be Kind button – it reminds ME to be kind – always.

And I do think people will at least pause and consider being a bit kinder to me too.

Doing your part

Changing a culture from cruelty to kindness is possible when each and every one of us do our part. Here are a few ways YOU can be a catalyst for change in your department.

  • Pick just one idea from my article, “10 Ways…” each week to implement in your department. Click here to read.
  • Get our “Be Kind” Buttons or stickers for everyone in your department. Wear your buttons every day so that you’re reminded to be kind – always. Click here to purchase.
  • Join our Facebook group, “Be Kind – Not Cruel” to surround yourself with others who understand that kindness in healthcare isn’t optional. It’s a requirement of the job. Click here to join.

Addressing workplace bullying and incivility will always be our primary focus whether it’s a national month or not. We will never give up until we’ve completely transformed healthcare into professional, supportive, nurturing, respectful, and KIND places to work. Although we are making great progress, we can’t stop the cruelty alone but together, we CAN make healthcare a better, kinder place.

Join us.

Be Kind – Take Care – Stay Connected.


About Renee Thompson

Dr. Renee Thompson is a keynote speaker, author and professional development/anti-bullying thought leader. Renee spends the majority of her time helping healthcare and academic organizations address and eliminate bullying behavior. To find out how you can bring Renee to YOUR organization or nursing event, visit www.healthyworkforceinstitute.com

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